Published on: 13 May 2021

Today is National Operating Department Practitioner’s Day, so to celebrate we spoke to some of our amazing ODP’s to hear more about their role at ELHT, how their working life changed when they were redeployed during Covid-19 and what it is about their job they love.

Below you’ll find two blogs from Maria and Claire, both of whom were redeployed to the Critical Care Unit at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital to help out during the pandemic.

Maria Qamar, ODP at Burnley General Teaching Hospital: 

“My name is MMaria Qamar.jpegaria Qamar and I have been a part of the ELHT family at Burnley General Hospital for 3 years. After completion of my Operating Department Practitioner degree at the University of Huddersfield, I joined the NHS.

“I had initially never heard of the ODP degree and was introduced to it by a tutor at college. I was intrigued by what the degree entailed that after researching it that I decided to apply for it. I recall reading about the job specification and how it perfectly matched a career that was suitable for myself.

“As a result of the ongoing covid pandemic, surgical procedures were brought to a halt. Me and many of my colleagues were redeployed to the Critical Care Unit at Royal Blackburn Teraching Hospital to assist with the situation. One can never be prepared to deal with the extent of a widespread pandemic in any circumstances and no doubt for me as well as my colleagues that it was a very nerve wracking experience which will never be forgotten. The wearing of FFP3 respirators as well as providing the utmost care for the critical ill and ensuring that everything possible was being done was very challenging. I, alongside every other individual who assisted with the pandemic would no doubt say that during the first wave of it we felt totally out of our depth.

Nevertheless, lessons were learnt during the initial first wave and as a result we had to adapt fairly quickly to dealing with the situation. This was a totally new environment for many of us in comparison to what we normally dealt with on a day to day basis in theatres.

Consequently, I was able to learn new skills which I never thought I would be able to and the experience allowed me to enhance my pre-existing skills as an ODP. To this day it still feels like a very surreal experience and one that I will no doubt carry throughout my career as well as my life. Every staff member l came across I could not thank them enough for they support.”

Claire Matthews, Senior ODP at the Elective Care Theatres at Burnley General Teaching Hospital:

Claire Matthews.jpg “Hello, my name is Claire I’ve been an ODP since September 2017. I was lucky to gain a full time role as an ODP in the Elective Centre Theatres at BGTH on qualifying where I worked across anaesthetics, scrub and recovery covering many different surgical specialities such as Urology, General Surgery, Chronic pain, Max Fax and Dentals. I have recently gained a Band 6 scrub position at RBTH in the Urology theatres where I am looking forward to the challenges and new opportunities this will bring.

The ODP profession is very much unheard of and I often feel the need to explain what we do although I do feel this is now changing as our role becomes more acknowledged. During the pandemic we became more well-known and our extensive airway training and skill set was used to provide safe, personal and effective care to all our patients.

I vividly remember the first time I went to ICU and the realisation that the Covid-19 pandemic was actually happening hit me like a brick. We were in full PPE for hours which was uncomfortable and I felt completely out of my comfort zone. We were given a whistle stop tour of ICU and the paperwork involved which was daunting, however the ICU staff were amazing and so supportive despite the fact they hadn’t ever dealt with anything like this before either. This was not what anyone had trained for and no two days were the same. The ups and downs of each day were unbelievable; most definitely the hardest part of my career so far! There were many meltdowns and tears shed but I learnt so much. The deaths and sadness which came with each day were incredibly difficult and never got any easier.

After the first wave we entered the ‘new normal’ of daily work life and I felt very glad to be back in theatre doing what I do best. Covid obviously hasn’t gone away and the effect it’s had on my colleagues and I is still tricky to deal with. The amazing team work and friendships have got us through and I am proud to be an ODP within the ELHT theatre team celebrating ODP day 2021.”

Thinking about becoming an ODP or joining ELHT? Take a look at our vacancies page here, to find out more about the various roles available at our fantastic Trust.